I Am a Woman With a Disability and I Am Happily Married
Growing up, I was like any other little girl who dreamed of being married one day. But if I said it out loud, the adults around me quickly hushed me. The reason? I had been diagnosed at age 2 with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, and I soon came to understand this was not a dream I was allowed to have.
As a teenager, I realized the vast challenges disabled people face when it comes to dating. Guys would hardly look at me as a person, let alone as a girl or a potential date. In fact, the bullying I endured throughout school took a new turn in high school and I had guys egging each other on to “ask me out” while the others watched from a distance. The minute I acknowledged the request in any way, they would start laughing and walk away saying “as if!” or something worse at the top of their lungs, while I watched money exchange hands as the bet was paid off. It was humiliating.
Young adulthood was no better. As a Christian, church was a venue in which it was supposed to be safe to form friendships and begin dating, but the same stigmas followed me there, only with a slight twist: I was looked on as a “friend” or a “sister,” but never anything else. Ministers and pastors counseled me against getting my hopes up.
There is a mindset that disabled people should look for love only within the disabled community. I never once bought into that mindset and was open to whomever God chose.
I did have one dating experience when I was 24. He was a long-time friend and we dated for 17 months before he broke it off. The reason: he didn’t like the fact that I refused to promise him that I would not end up in a wheelchair one day. There were other issues that were his alone and not a topic for this story. So at 25, I found myself heartbroken and single once again.
By the age of 35, I had honestly given my dream of ever becoming a wife to God and was content being single. I had been a maid of honor and a bridesmaid at so many friends’ weddings. I had watched them birth children and deal with the challenges marriage and kids can bring. I had even walked beside a few of them whose marriages ended in divorce. I had no illusions about the hard work marriage entailed. As the years passed, I was completely at peace with the idea that I was and would remain single.
Suddenly at the age of 42, I found myself in the midst of a shift from a three-year friendship into a romantic relationship. Trust me, no one was more shocked than I was and… he was able-bodied!
There were so many questions people asked and so many questions we asked ourselves, but always it came down to our views about God and His plans and purposes for our relationship. After a courtship by fire (my Dad had been diagnosed with ALS), we were engaged.
Two months before our wedding, severe back spasms began in my lower back, making it impossible for me to walk for six to eight hours per day. All my plans to walk down the aisle using my four-wheeled walker were suspended as we came up with plan B – my groom would carry me down the aisle.
I endured dress fittings with my ladies-in-waiting literally holding me upright while the seamstress pinned the hem of my dress and tears rolled down my face due to the pain of the intense back spasms. I was certain the seamstress thought I was being married against my will!
A few weeks before our wedding the back spasms stopped being as severe, and I was able to walk again. I kept asking my groom-to-be if he was sure that he wanted to marry someone so “broken.” He never wavered.
So, at the age of 44, on March 24, 2012, I was married. My dream of becoming a wife became reality. A very special man chose to see the real me behind the disability and we have been happily married for over five years.
I encourage all women and men with disabilities of any and every kind not to give up hope. I am living proof that dreams come true!
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Thinkstock photo by Creatas Images.